The fact that the leader in the polls managed to win should not come as a surprise to anybody. Yet, the phrase “epic upset” was heard last night when Republican Scott Brown beat the Democratic machine in Massachusetts. Never mind that that machine couldn’t deliver for Obama in the 2008 primaries, and that the machine nominated a candidate who actually showed disdain for campaigning in the cold and shaking hands with regular voters, among many other gaffes and signs of elitism.
The nominal filibuster-proof majority is now over. But what did the Democrats do with it last year except make excuses after excuses to find support among uninterested Republicans and catering to every last whim of every egotistical pol from Ben Nelson to Joe Lieberman. Now, at least, the center-right Democrats are powerless, even if it means the liberal ones are, too. Maybe we’ll finally get a debate over whether to end the procedural filibusters on literally everything that dares to move in the Senate.
The real problem is the high likelihood of cowering Democrats using this as an excuse to abandon any real moves on healthcare, climate change, labor organizing, or financial regulation. Just when they receive proof that Republicans are excited and Dem voters are staying home, the politicians in Washington may just make matters worse by abandoning what’s left of an honestly weak, watered-down, pansy-ass of an agenda.
That’s the real worry, the real cause for panic in Scott Brown’s victory. It’s not that the Dems suddenly are powerless to enact their agenda – it’s that they’ll drop all pretenses of even trying.